A year of making town crier proclamations has taught me to be a lot more careful of my vocal chords. Sore throats and the prospect of losing your voice are two fears all town criers face. Thankfully there is lots to do to ensure you don’t end up being struck dumb.
The best advice I can give anyone who will be shouting a lot is to drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated is massively important to both volume and timbre of the voice. I really cannot emphasise this enough. If you keep your throat from getting dry you should be fine.
Never to shout at full volume. In you know what 100% volume is for you, then knock it back to 95%. Nobody but you will notice. It is those last few decibels that do the damage and give you a sore throat, so avoid ever using them.
Warm up your ‘instrument’ before you play it. This is something every singer knows and every town crier learns too. A gentle 20 minutes of vocal exercises will help ensure that your vocal chords are ready to perform.
Think about your environment. Dusty, smokey or polluted places will be harder on your throat than clean air. I would rather be shouting outside on a damp afternoon than in a poorly ventilated building any day.
Avoid alcohol before a cry. This is somewhat contentious as many criers (and regimental Sergeant Majors) advocate a glass of port to lubricate the throat. While it is probably true that a glass of port will calm nerves and make you think you are going to perform better, the reality is that you are unlikely to sound better to others. Alcohol can have a numbing effect on your throat. You might not be aware that you are using too much force when you start shouting and could damage your throat as a result.
Rest your voice between cries. If you are performing multiple cries during the day, rest your voice as much as possible in between.
Suck a Strepsil (or a vocalzone, fisherman’s friend, tyrozet, soother or any other throat sweet). After each cry a throat sweet will help soothe your throat. Some have pretty strange flavours so try different sweets and see which ones work for you… But remember that too much sugar isn’t great so use them only as necessary. Also be wary of sucking ‘numbing’ throat sweets before a cry (again because of the risk of over-shouting) but afterwards, these can be very comforting.